Knockout City just launched on May 21, but it's already been played by five million players, Velan Studios revealed in an accolades-heavy blog post today.
The numbers are, of course, a bit skewed by the free trial launch and the inclusion of the game in Game Pass, but then again, plenty of games feature these perks and don't enjoy such launches. Suffice it to say, Velan is ecstatic with the electric start to the team's sophomore effort. The team also revealed a new strategy which allows the game to remain free for all players playing the trial version of the game until they reach player level 25, which is several hours of gameplay time.
"It's been amazing to see everyone getting to check out the game during Block Party for free, and we know this is a game that you really need to play to appreciate how fun it is, so we wanted to keep the game free to try for anyone that didn't get to check it out before now. That’s why we’ve decided to keep the fun rolling by giving new brawlers the ability to start playing for free and level up (currently to Street Rank 25) before having to purchase the game*. That’s also enough game time to teach them to pass the ball.
Just like during Block Party, anyone who downloads the free trial will be able to progress in Street Rank, unlock cosmetics, and complete Daily Contracts, Season Contracts and start progressing toward getting those Career Contracts. All the customizations you unlock, progress you make, and Contracts you complete in the free trial will carry over when you purchase the full game. You will also be able to play League Play once you reach Street Rank 10. If you want to Crew Up with friends, or play Private Matches, the game will gently remind you that those features are available when you purchase the full game."
By all accounts, Knockout City has been a success for EA and Velan Studios, and with the new payment plan for fans to keep playing for free for the first few hours as well as the long-term (likely permanent) inclusion in Game Pass via EA Play, Knockout City has the potential to be the team-based PvP success Rocket Arena wasn't able to become. EA Originals used to focus exclusively on single-player games such as Unravel and Fe, but lately, games like It Takes Two and Knockout City have proven there's space for these "indies" to really blow up with a strong central idea and the backing of the world's biggest games publisher.
With EA Play Live coming up in July, it will be interesting to see what other tricks the EA Originals brand has up its publishing sleeve.